I wanted to rush through this -- time being pressing on my heels -- and I couldn't. I didn't want to miss any of it -- and I didn't want to stop until I had finished it. I don't know what the competition was (this is the winner of the Atlantic $5,000 Non-Fiction Prize) but I am sure I should cast my vote for this no matter what other manuscripts were ""also rans"". It's a slice out of the blood and sinews of America. It is sheer drama, thrilling narrative, extraordinary characterization. It's a lusty, primitive, moving yarn -- reads like fiction -- and yet is stamped with the indisputable mark of authenticity. Of ""Old Jules"" his eldest son said: ""I was surprised when I got up on the Flats. Even people who don't have much use for Dada think he's a big man, -- crazy maybe, but big."" And so he emerges, from his daughter's dispassionate picture -- a man who was a symbol of the untutored, earthy, powerful, cruel, relentless West of which he was part and parcel. He struck out from his home in Switzerland after a bitter quarrel with his father -- and headed across sea and land to settle in the Panhandle section of Nebraska, where he fought most of the elements of enroaching civilization and aided some of them -- where he met all comers gun in hand -- and delivered babies, shot away the encroaching poison when bitten himself by a rattlesnake, fought for postal facilities, proved that deserts could bear fruit and built success in forty years stalwart pioneering effort. It's a book that can't fail -- for it has the essential human quality that makes success. Count on strong publisher backing. They have put over all of their prize winners -- and this should go on its own momentum with any luck at all.